I played softball for 11 years back in grade school, and I had always taken a lot of pride in doing my best out on the field. Unlike the girls who had been forced to play by overly insistent parents, I took the game seriously and worked my hardest to help my team succeed.
This year, I signed up to play softball on my company’s softball team. I had to go out and buy a new glove, and try to warm my arm up a bit, but I was excited and couldn’t wait for our games to start.
Yesterday, we had to forfeit because only 6 out of 16 players showed up.
It was beyond frustrating. I leaned against my coworker’s red Mustang as we stared at the ground, scowling at the fact that so many people had deserted us. We had committed to something and we were there to follow through, yet they didn’t find it to be worthwhile. No calls of apology or explanation, just a straight no-show from half of our team.
As one of our strongest members growled his annoyance at the absent team members, something clicked in my head. I’ve been saying it for a while, after all, but it’s far easier to say when you haven’t been on the field for ten years. Yesterday, standing on the asphalt by the softball field, I realized it was true:
Raiding is a sport.
Just like most sports, raiding is a team effort. When you sign up for a raid, you’re making a commitment to be available for that effort. You can have five fantastic players who can perform spectacularly at the drop of a hat, but if the other half of the team doesn’t show, no one gets to do anything.
Obviously some things are more important than a game. Our manager had to step out of playing last week because she’s had surgery and can’t be exerting herself. But she went and found other people to fill in the roster, making sure that the game could go on. If you make a commitment and suddenly cannot keep it, the very least you can do is let the organizer know so that the group isn’t left in the lurch at the last-minute.
The analogy goes further, of course. Depending on the team you play, you can stick your weakest link in right field and still win the game. But if that other team has a lefty, or someone who can place their hits, then your team will get steamrolled. It’s been said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It only takes one dps to walk through the fire and blow up the entire raid.
When I played softball in grade school, the weakest link was traditionally stuck as catcher. All that player really had to do was throw the ball back to the pitcher after each pitch – nothing special or otherwise demanding. But when a nepotistic coach stuck me in that position, I was determined to own it. I flipped my mask off to catch foul balls. I jumped to the plate and made catches at home base. What had traditionally been something that only losers played ended up changing the entire league, because one girl had made that position important.
Old habits die hard, I think.